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Literature / Majipoor Series

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The Majipoor Series is a Planetary Romance Science Fantasy series by Robert Silverberg; probably his most popular and successful work. Starting with the award-winning Lord Valentine's Castle in 1980, the series has grown to include half a dozen novels and several short-story stories.

Majipoor is a very large planet, although its low density and lack of heavy metals means that its gravity is similar to Earth's. It's a remote backwater, but several different species live on the planet, including humans, who constitute the majority of the population, and the shape-shifting native Piurivar. The society is agrarian and feudal, ruled by four people: the Coronal (Lord Valentine in the first novel), who lives in a great castle atop Castle Mount; the Pontifex, who is always the previous Coronal, and who lives deep underground in The Labyrinth; the Lady of the Isle of Sleep, who is always the Coronal's mother, and who sends dreams to the planet's inhabitants; and the King of Dreams, who lives on the remote continent of Suvrael, and who sends nightmares to punish wrongdoers.

In the first book (as the series was written), Lord Valentine, the current Coronal, has lost his memory, and must make his way across the planet on a journey of self-discovery. The next two books, Majipoor Chronicles and Valentine Pontifex also focused on Lord Valentine, but other books in the series, especially the prequels, have simply shared the setting.

A French comic adaptation started in 2009.

Books in the series (in internal chronological order):

  • Sorcerers of Majipoor (1997)
  • Lord Prestimion (1999)
  • King of Dreams (2000)
  • Lord Valentine's Castle (1980)
  • Majipoor Chronicles (story collection, 1982)
  • Valentine Pontifex (1983)
  • The Mountains of Majipoor (1995)

Tropes in this series:

  • 419 Scam: "A Thief in Ni-Moya" has a woman swindled out of her savings by people claiming these are fees for inheriting a large estate.
  • Big Fancy Castle: The eponymous castle (on Castle Mount, natch), home of the current Coronal. It's several thousand years old, and it's traditional for each Coronal to add at least one major building project to the castle.
  • Big Labyrinthine Building: The Labyrinth, home of the Pontifex, who is always the last Coronal to serve on Castle Mount. This strange city is in a desert region and is built almost entirely below ground. Many layers beneath the ground, the bureaucracy that actually runs Majipoor is busy with their statistical analyses and other "official" paperwork. The Pontifex himself, technically the top executive of the planet, is more or less stuck here.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: Water-lords have been hunted for meat like game animals since the planet was founded. Later in the original series, it's revealed that they're sapient...and despite this (and despite the fact that they put up a fight when hunted), their attitudes towards death result in their stance on the matter being roughly "by all means, keep eating us; it's a great honor, and a service that we provide."
  • Care-Bear Stare: Lord Valentine has this power.
  • Came from the Sky: Khun in Lord Valentine's Castle.
  • Disney Death: Valentine in Valentine Pontifex.
  • Dream Weaver: Both the Lady of the Isle of Dreams and the King of Dreams have the power to send dreams to any of Majipoor's inhabitants.
  • Extra Eyes: The Liimen, one of the several races found on Majipoor, generally working at menial jobs, have three eyes.
  • Fake King: A usurpation of this sort (carried out by the Metamorphs, no less) drives the plot of Lord Valentine's Castle.
  • Fictional Currency: Majipoor has its own currency, which is explained in the beginning of Lord Valentine's Castle when Valentine tries to buy a single sausage with a golden royal and has to be told the values of the coins in his purse.
  • Grand Theft Me: Dominin usurps by doing this to Lord Valentine.
  • I Am Who?: In Lord Valentine's Castle, the protagonist who has been memory-wiped discovers that he is Lord Valentine.
  • Interspecies Romance: Majipoor Chronicles features two such stories: "Thesme and the Ghayrog" (human/Ghayrog) and "The Soul-Painter and the Shapeshifter" (human/Piurivar, and he finds her true form more appealing because it's honest).
  • Let's Meet the Meat: One of the titular planet's native (most of the population are immigrants from the other worlds) sentient species, the enormous and psychic water-lords, are actively hunted by the most of the land-dwelling inhabitantsnote , mainly because for the most of the planet's history nobody knew that they are sentient. In the unexpected twist, the water-lords are perfectly okay with being hunted and eaten, as they view this as a moral obligation, and generally consider death differently from the all other races. Yes, they are weird.
  • Lizard Folk: The Ghayrogs, one of the many species living on Majipoor, resemble humanoid lizards, right down to their forked tongues. They display little emotion, rarely sleep, and sometimes serve as functionaries in the human-dominated government.
  • Metal-Poor Planet: Majipoor is ten times the size of Earth, and only habitable thanks to this trope. The lack of metal leads to Schizo Tech, with draft animals and Vibroweapons existing side by side.
  • Planetary Romance: A fairly standard example, with magical elements generally hand-waved as Psychic Powers.
  • Offered the Crown: Valentine remembers this in his Back Story in Lord Valentine's Castle.
  • Satisfied Street Rat: Hissune from Lord Valentine's Castle is this, played straight in the novel itself, while in the sequel it's subverted as all hell, when Lord Valentine makes him a nobleman and eventually Valentine's successor as king of Majipoor.
  • Swallowed Whole: Happens to several main characters in Lord Valentine's Castle. Luckily for them, water-lord anatomy is weird.
  • Telepathy: Used extensively throughout the series, and drives many of the events.
  • The Good King: Lord Valentine.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: Valentine struggles with this for a little while in Lord Valentine's Castle.
  • Vibro Weapon: In Lord Valentine's Castle, the group encounters and recruits a gigantic amazonian woman who wields a vibroblade.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: The native species, the Piurivar (aka Metamorphs), have this power.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle!: The apparent villain of Lord Valentine's Castle turned out to be merely an instrument in a much larger plot.

Alternative Title(s): Lord Valentines Castle